Film Review: Iron Man
In 2008, Jon Favreau released Iron Man, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow, Faran Tahir, Paul Bettany, Leslie Bibb, Clark Gregg, and Will Lyman with Samuel L. Jackson providing a cameo, the film grossed $585.2 million at the box office and was the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Winner of the MTV Movie Award for Best Summer Movie So Far, The Taurus World Stunt Awards for Hardest Hit and Best Fire Stunt, and the Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actor, and Best Director, the film was also nominated for multiple other awards, including the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form, the Saturn Awards for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Score, and Best Visual Effects, the MTV Movie Awards for Best Movie and Best Male Performance, and the Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing.
Following his capture by terrorist after a missile demonstration in Afghanistan, Tony Stark escapes by creating a powered armor in a cave with a box of scraps. However, when he gets back home, he decides he’s had enough and dedicates himself to cleaning up his company, Stark Industries, by ending the sale of weapons as well as stop the terrorists that have some of the weapons the company built. In order to do that, he has to build an even better set of armor.
The film that started it all, Iron Man is a great and enjoyable film that tells a wonderful story surrounding Tony Stark and the creation of his Iron Man alter ego. However, it’s so much more than that as it’s also a story of personal redemption, considering the plot kicks off out of a sense of Stark’s desire to atone for his company profiteering off of war as well as his building of the Mark III suit coming from him wanting to defend the people of Yinsen’s village. A rather notable aspect to the whole film is also how he decides that hiding the fact that he’s Iron Man isn’t for him and instead of going along with the official story of where he was when this “Iron Man” was tearing up the freeway, he just bluntly states that it was him.
Actually, doing that really makes sense in light of the character arc that Stark goes through over the course of the film. He starts off the film as incredibly full of himself, but still friendly to the lower guys on the radar, even going so far as to work to get to know them on the way to the Jericho demonstration. Him doing so and then understanding that people are using the weapons he sells for nefarious purposes as well as the destruction they cause helps bring him to the realization that he’d rather help people than hurt them. It’s notable that it’s not until he just decides to go and rescue the people of Yinsen’s village does he become any sort of hero. It comes full circle at the end, following the fight with Stane as he doesn’t want to shy away from how he’s trying to help people, which fuels him tearing down any semblance of a secret identity.
On the flip side, Obadiah Stane is not only a great villain, but a wonderful foil to the person that Stark is growing into throughout the film. While Stane is just as much a shrewd businessman as Stark, he’s only selling weapons because he wants the money, as opposed to Stark initially doing it because he has a sense of honor and patriotism. It’s his greed that gets the best of him, with him wanting to make weapons deals without any oversight just so he can get more money. At the same time, Stane also thinks he’s been holding Stark up for three decades and has been pushed to the background, making it so that he’s got double motivation with jealousy alongside greed. He’s able to manipulate the company so they shut Stark out of the company with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a reason when his plan to have the Ten Rings get rid of him fails. Stane also puts up a good façade as well, with him being a friendly, jovial guy who likes to make jokes and treat his employees well for the most part.
The success of this film was quite fascinating, but it’s worth noting that Marvel really had a lot riding on this film, considering that the company had sold the film rights to its most popular characters and that Iron Man was a B-level character when it was released. It was quite the risk, but it worked.
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